Celebrating Our Graduates; College of Arts and Humanities

Her 9th Clemson graduation marks the first time earning her degree.


Performing artist Ansley Hollingsworth moves from center stage to crossing it at 2024 commencement.

When Ansley Hollingsworth walks across the stage at Clemson University’s next graduation, she’ll be in familiar territory. After all, she’s performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the last eight graduation ceremonies in Littlejohn Coliseum during her Clemson career. Hollingsworth will close her Clemson career singing at all eight ceremonies this May, too.

It’s an opportunity Director of Music and Vocal Studies Anthony Bernarducci and Assistant Professor of Music, Vocal Studies and Musical Theatre Lisa Sain Odom approached her about, and one she seized. She’s nervous every time — it’s the largest crowd the performing arts major with a concentration in music-vocal performance has ever performed in front of.

Hollingsworth says her knees would wobble and her neck would blush as she approached the stage. But the warmth of those running the ceremonies and spotting friends in the crowd soothed anxieties.

“I love it,” Hollingsworth says of the special performances.

Now, the exceptionally talented artist is saying goodbye to Clemson in style, being honored with the Outstanding Student in the Performing Arts Award from the College of Arts and Humanities. Hollingsworth was also recently named one of two winners in the recent Clemson Concerto Competition, where she performed as a soprano.

The awards and spotlight are welcome, but Hollingsworth cherishes the community she’s built in Clemson’s performing arts scene. It’s one that has made her sharper at her craft and built on the foundation her parents helped provide through solo tutoring opportunities in Roswell, Georgia.

Hollingsworth has been singing since she could first speak. Those private voice lessons with an opera singer who studied in Austria began in elementary school. That led to Hollingsworth performing in German lieder, which bloomed into being able to perform Italian, Austrian and French opera.

“Getting involved in music was hard there,” she says. “I’ve loved getting into music early at Clemson because I had never done anything like that in a group before.”

The initial idea was to enroll in a Southeastern Conference school, but Hollingworth’s parents had close friends who attended Clemson.

“My dad said, ‘Why don’t we go to Clemson and look around?’” she recalls. “‘No harm, no foul.’”

Hollingsworth auditioned and practically committed upon acceptance. It was a performance she’d been preparing for her entire life.

Ansley Hollingsworth pictured at a December 2023 graduation ceremony. She will also perform at her own graduation ceremony in May 2024.

Beginning college as a first-year student in the arts during the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult. It demands close contact and plenty of singing and speaking. But Hollingsworth found her path and dove deep.

She’s in CU Singers, Cantorei and TakeNote, the all-women’s acapella ensemble.

“It was a big adjustment from being a solo singer to singing as a group,” Hollingsworth says. “It’s a really great community that is with each other every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I love all the people that are in that department.”

The final days of college were loaded with rehearsals for her solo recital, a graduation requirement of her senior studies. The recital in the Samuel J. Cadden Chapel spanned 90 minutes and 16 songs were performed in English, German, French and Italian. It was all performed in front of her relatives and music family — classmates and teachers.

“Everyone has been so nice to me over the past four years and it has helped me grow as an artist and musician tremendously,” she says.

Hollingsworth leaves Clemson with a mastery of time management skills and an understanding of how to rest her body and voice properly.

After she takes her final bow, Hollingsworth will provide private voice lessons and perform at wedding receptions and other venues in the Charleston area, where her family now lives. She also hasn’t ruled out going to graduate school for a Master of Vocal Pedagogy degree.

From here, Hollingsworth wants to fulfill her main career goal of becoming a voice teacher. She believes her real calling is to teach and help others understand the voice. It’s a career she’s well qualified for.

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